You know which nutrients build strong bones and muscles. But did you know that certain compounds can help strengthen your mind, too, even warding off age-related mental decline like dementia and Alzheimer’s? These five nutrients may keep your brain sharp and memory strong, according to a recent review of studies by the Institute of Food Technologists.
1. Cocoa flavanols: Chocolate lovers rejoice! In a recent study conducted by the Columbia University Medical Center, researchers found that cocoa flavanols — naturally occurring compounds found in cocoa — reversed age-related memory decline in older adults by improving the function of dentate gyrus, the part of the brain associated with memory.
2. Omega-3 fatty acids: Heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids may help improve the function of another important organ: your brain. A study in mice found that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation helped to better three different types of memory: object recognition, spatial memory (remembering information about one’s environment) and localizatory memory (things that can be consciously recalled, such as facts). To boost your omega-3 intake, eat more salmon, walnuts, flaxseed oil and chia seeds.
3. Citicoline: A natural substance found in the body’s cells, citocoline is a brain-tissue builder that may help regulate memory and mental function, and enhance communication between the neurons in the brain. Clinical trials have shown that as you age, citicoline supplements may protect the brain from free-radical damage and ensure it continues to function normally.
4. Choline: Choline helps the brain communicate with the rest of the body. It may also support the brain during aging by preventing changes that result in cognitive decline. Choline is available as a supplement, but to get your brainpower from foods, up your egg intake!
5. Anthocyanins: Ever wonder why blueberries are known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties? They’re teeming with anthocyanins, flavonoids that are naturally found in the foods healthiest for humans. Adding blueberries to your diet could help increase neural signaling, or the transfer and processing of information, in your brain.
Note: It’s important to consume these nutrients in the amount that’s right for you. Work with your doctor to determine your individual dietary needs.